Thank you for your teachings. I am a Christian who grew up in a traditional Christian home and graduated from Christian school. Now, as an adult married 17 years to my Christian husband; however, I have no children due to an ongoing illness.
I am now coping with the reality that I will likely never have children. I am now in my forties. This has been a great disappointment for me. I have seen many childless women groups on the internet, but I am careful who I take advice from. I should add that my husband and I have a wonderful marriage, but I am wondering how I best serve the Lord though I am not a mother?
What makes this most difficult is that I feel socially isolated. I have been reading my Bible and searching scripture for my new purpose. Are there any biblical scriptures you suggest?
Thank you for taking the time to consider my question.
You are, indeed, going through a difficult challenge. The Bible leaves much unsaid about the emotional pain felt in many heart-breaking situations, but when it comes to childlessness it gives us numerous examples of women suffering devastating pain because they couldn’t conceive. We are sure that surrendering the dream of having children is almost unbearable.
We are going to assume that you and your husband have decided against adoption or you would have phrased your question differently. Perhaps you have also thought of foster parenting and rejected that idea for your own reasons. We do suggest that you find some way, whether within your own extended family or by reaching outside that group, to connect to the next generation. It is important for all of us to envision a future that lasts beyond ourselves.
You might consider providing a “safe haven” for the pre-teen and teenage children of friends—a place that they can come during the inevitable clashes with parents with whom you can collaborate on this. Or perhaps you are in a position to offer supplemental coaching or tutoring to either local homeschoolers or conventionally educated youngsters. Whatever it is, you could become a really important person in the lives of the next generation. They will see you this way and you will derive pleasure and purpose.
Once you look beyond children related areas, there are so many avenues to serve God available to you. Assess your resources, talents and interests and you will find innumerable areas where your contributions can make a huge difference. While the pain of not having children won’t go away, the time and energy you can devote to other areas is also a reality and one that you can embrace.
You don’t mention work or career considerations. Maybe God is giving you a never-before-considered opportunity to do something really fulfilling in a work context? Our most recent Thought Tool addresses the question of escaping ‘in-the-box’ thinking. Perhaps it could be useful to you.
You speak of social isolation. This is a recurring problem in many religious, family oriented communities. The normal expectations, as wonderful as they are, of marriage and family make it difficult on those who don’t match those expectations. This does mean that you need to make more of an effort to make a place for yourself. Synagogues and churches with which we are familiar have all sorts of groups ranging from book clubs to ministries that visit the homebound to classes on financial guidance.
Your effort can take many forms and depending on the circumstances might mean steeling yourself to be less sensitive to certain comments or speaking to a group leader and letting her know that you feel left out when the discussion continually goes off topic and turns into “mommy sharing.” Enlarge your heart to recognize that you might share a deep friendship with a mother of a large family; neither she nor you is defined solely by children.
As for Scriptural suggestions, Jewish women for thousands of years have turned to the book of Psalms for solace and strength. No matter the sorrow or celebration, Psalms speaks to their souls.
Wishing you joy and fulfillment,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin